How his ignorance of Weltpolitik has mired us in Iraq
|Between 1945 and 1979, the Middle East saw itself caught up in numerous Weltpolitik developments. It saw the creation of the State of Israel, the withdrawal of most Imperialistic forces (primarily French and British), the independence and self-rule of most states in the region, the rise of Petroleum as a world currency, and Cold War politics.
While the US sided with Israel, most of its neighbors aligned themselves more closely to the Soviets. Syria, Iraq, and Egypt soon found themselves wielding Soviet-made AK-47's and Saggers, riding on T-54/55 and T-62 tanks, and in BTR-60 and BMP-I armored personnel carriers. Basically only Jordan and Saudi Arabia, by virtue of more moderate stances, retained the support of mostly British and some American equipment.
The OPEC oil embargoes, most notably the one in 1973, served to remind the world that the mostly Arab nations of the region could be a very real economic and political power. In the end, the western powers, the industrialized nations, were best served by exploiting the philosophical and political differences between the primary OPEC nations. A division was subsequently found and exploited that has since mostly neutralized the once mighty OPEC.
In 1979, something changed dramatically. The Soviets, restricted by a powerful and nuclear armed NATO block on the west and an increasingly powerful and nuclear China on the east, decided to take action in the sovereign but satellite nation of Afghanistan. The motivation for an invasion of Afghanistan is now academic. In the Cold War era, the US felt compelled to act. And act it did. Just as the Russians had surreptitiously aided their allies during the War in Viet Nam, and in the Middle East, the US took similar covert actions in Afghanistan. CIA operatives trained, financed and equipped Mujahedeen resistance fighters. In what is now an obviously misguided move, the US undid all its efforts to separate and isolate the various Arab and Muslim nations by openly calling for Islamic volunteers in the fight against the "God-Less" Communists.
Among those who answered was a son of one of the wealthiest and most influential of Saudi families, one Osama bin Laden. In the end, several things happened. The Soviets finally withdrew in 1989, with the Muslim extremist Taliban eventually filling the vacuum to rise to power, and the foundation for an international Muslim militant power was laid. From the latter, rose al Qaeda.
In 1990, convinced that the balance of world power had shifted (perhaps because he had unwittingly misinterpreted communications with US diplomats), and fighting his own internal disunion, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. George Bush (41.. Not 43) had enough of a grasp of the region to know that Western troops alone would not be appreciated in dealing with what was, in effect, an Arab crisis at least as much as an international one. He made sure to build a coalition that included Arab nations. Most notable among the Arab contributions was a Syrian contingent. It remains the only US-Syrian military alliance in my lifetime.
Despite 41's good intentions or perhaps because of them, the coalition held to certain precepts. The overriding one was the liberation of Kuwait, the other, arguably, was the defeat of Iraq. Neither the full occupation of Iraq nor the removal of Saddam Hussein was on the coalition agenda. Certainly the US made a presumption that the defeat of Iraqi forces, particularly the Revolutionary Guard, would lead the Iraqi people to overthrow Hussein. Much of what happened since the "Desert Storm"campaign of 1991 could bear future analysis. But in the end, the US public believed the task had been left incomplete, despite the valid political considerations of the decisions made.
43 lacks his father’s savvy in international politics. Saddam remaining in power, while his own father failed in his reelection bid must have galled him. It is no accident that when Bush 43 assumed the presidency, in his very first NSA meeting, in February 2001, one and only one issue was discussed: the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. Paul O’Neill, present at that meeting, specifically indicated that he thought that whole NSA meeting was an orchestrated validation of an eventual invasion of Iraq.
When September 11, 2001 hit this country, there was one, and only one focus in the White House. Go after Saddam.
In the end, despite all valid proof to the contrary, despite the fact all contrary indications were later validated, George W. Bush got his war. Despite the fact that his own father had cautiously avoided making Desert Storm appear like a Western War against Islam, George W. Bush rushed in. And the results? Look at them. Exactly what his father wanted to avoid, the son accomplished. Islamic nations are in an uproar. Extremist Muslims from all over the world seem united against us, and most notably in Iraq proper. Moderate Islamic leaders question our attitudes towards their faith. No doubt a history-blind Bush calling the campaign against Terrorism a Crusade did not help. Even an Iran that had once trended to a more moderate stance towards the US has swung to extreme anti-western views and entrenched itself with defiance. Syria, the elder Bush's onetime, albeit reluctant, ally is now a thorn in our side.
The George W. Bush White House has, since Sept 11, 2001 not made the world safer, not made Americans safer, and not made the Middle East safer. It lacks a comprehension of world dynamics, and history.